Monday, August 16, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation (2003), Part 1

Hey there, readers! If you're hungry for a hockey fix, here's a little tidbit to hold you over. This is reposted from my MySpace blog:

During the summer of 2003, I spent a few days working with the Phoenix Coyotes at their training camp in Scottsdale, Arizona (It was the one good thing that came out of spending the blazing days of summer back home in Phoenix). I figured I'd take advantage of my team's affiliation with the Coyotes, so I contacted Stan Wilson, the Coyotes' Head Equipment Manager, and asked if he could use any help during training camp. The Coyotes held their rookie camp in Los Angeles, and the team's Assistant Equipment Managers went over there to take care of them, so Stan was basically left all alone to take care of the veterans who were skating in Phoenix. The Coyotes' Head Athletic Trainer, Gord Hart, and their Massage Therapist, Jukka Nieminen, help out around the locker room, but their primary job is taking care of the players' medical needs, while Stan is primarily responsible for everything the players wear. He invited me to come out and help him. I jumped at the opportunity to go and see how the NHL guys do things, and get a little hockey fix in the process. Of course, it also can't hurt to attain name recognition with the Coyotes' brass. In any case, I relished the opportunity to work with my hometown NHL team.

I kept a diary of my experiences there with the intention of getting it published in our game program that season, or maybe in our local newspaper. While that didn't happen, I came across this and thought some of my blog readers might be interested in it. Here's day one. If you like it, let me know and I'll break the rest of it into parts and post them here later on. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2003:

I made my way to the Alltel Ice Den, the practice home of the Phoenix Coyotes at about 8:15am. I found my way around to the player entrance and met up with Stan. I was in awe as soon as I walked through the door into the locker room. They have an unbelievable setup. Right down the hallway from the entrance is Stan's office and work area. It's twice the size of my work area in Stingley. He has a three-head sharpener, with two pneumatic riveters, one hand riveter, and a boot press on an adjacent counter. He has storage cabinets and counter space to work on around half of his room. He has a boot oven and a hydrocollator for breaking in new skates, and a huge storage cage for practice jerseys. All of this is in one room, and it's just a small part of the facility. He gave me the guided tour of the locker room, player's lounge, changing room, training room, coaches' offices, laundry room and storage room. There's even an extra locker room for visiting teams. It's incredible! Every room they have is at least twice as big as ours. Their equipment storage room is three times bigger than the one we had at the hockey pro-shop where I used to work; and it easily has more equipment in it. Their workout room is almost as big as the gym where our players work out, and it's adjacent to the training room. They have every type of workout equipment imaginable, and enough of them so that nobody has to wait to get on it. It's good to be in the NHL.

Stan showed me where everything was and asked me to set up the bench for practice. He was pretty busy taking care of the veterans that were getting ready for the morning's skate. Several new players arrived, and he had to set them up with their equipment. I met several of the players, including Landon Wilson, Shane Doan, and Brian Boucher. I also met Teppo Numminen, who was skating at the Ice Den for the last time (a former Coyote, he signed with Buffalo during the off-season). I found it amusing that he wore his Coyotes practice jersey inside out so he wouldn't be displaying the team logo.

I met Charlie Simmer, one of the Coyotes' broadcasters and a former L.A. King. He asked me who our Coach was, and when I told him it's Bill McDonald, a big grin crossed his face. He said, "Billy McDonald? From Thunder Bay?" Hockey sure is a small world. It turns out Charlie's from the next town over and has known Macker for years. He also told me that his nephew used to play for Macker, and it turns out that his nephew, Jesse Black played for Lubbock the year I worked there. So, I told him to tell Blackie I said "Hi", and he told me to say "Hello" to Macker for him.

I got to have a little "sneak preview" of the Coyotes' new uniforms. They're scheduled to be unveiled tonight at a local mall, and I was in the locker room when the PR people brought down the jerseys that the players were going to wear at the fashion show. It's a very different look...more traditional. The jerseys are brick red with white stripes, and a new coyote-head logo. I think they look pretty cool.

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